For newcomers, lacrosse might be intimidating because of the equipment it takes to play the game and since different positions require different gear. Friends may have told you that it’s an expensive sport to get started in. We’re here to break it all down for you in an easily digestible manner. Here is a list of the essential equipment for boys’ lacrosse you should get before you play.
Head and Shaft
The first piece of equipment every lacrosse player needs is a stick, but there’s a little more to it than that. A lacrosse stick has two main parts: the head, which is where the ball is carried, and the shaft, where the hands go.
The stringing within the head is the most important. Some of the cheapest, “factory strung” sticks on the market have saved money on the mesh and how the stick is strung, both of which have a significant impact on a player’s ability to play appropriately.
The length of a lacrosse shaft will also vary based on the player’s position in the field game.
- For midfielders and attackmen, use a regular-sized shaft (30”). 10U players are able to use shorter or “cut down” shafts.
- The longest shafts (60”) are used by defensive players or an LSM (long stick middie).
You can purchase lacrosse head and shaft separately and fully customize it by choosing your mesh and stringing. For beginners, a complete stick with the head and shaft already paired up and pre-strung is often the best and most affordable option.
Helmets are the one piece of equipment that is worth the investment, and whenever possible, you should buy new. With used helmets, you never know what happened before you had it. Cascade is the most popular helmet brand in lacrosse. Here’s a rundown of some of their offerings:
- The Cascade CS-R is a youth helmet targeted for 12U players.
- The Cascade CPV-R is generally for junior high and younger.
- The Cascade-S, R, XRS, and CPX-R are all geared toward high school, college, and pro play.
Keep in mind that helmets should be recertified every two years to make sure you have the most protection for your player.
Helmets tend to be the most likely piece of lacrosse team equipment to customize with colors and decals because they can serve as an extension of the uniform. Before you buy one, double-check with your team to see if they have color requirements.
Gloves are another crucial piece of gear, with many options to choose from. Lacrosse gloves vary in size from 6 inches to 14 inches. Beyond that, offensive and defensive players will wear the same type of gloves. Goalie gloves are different and have extra thumb protection. Some teams choose to custom order gloves in their team colors as well.
Shoulder pads will be the largest piece of equipment players will wear since they cover the chest and back. Most shoulder pads also include optional padding that will protect their biceps. Starting January 1, 2022, all shoulder pads must have enhanced protection over the heart. This means all compliant pads will have an SEI Certified/Meets NOCSAE Standards stamp.
The next piece of essential equipment for boys’ lacrosse is arm protection. In lacrosse, arm pads or arm guards are key, given the frequent contact that comes from the opposing players’ sticks. Like lacrosse shafts, the type of arm padding you wear depends on your position.
- Attackmen will wear an arm guard that will cover more area and offer the greatest level of protection.
- Midfielders generally use arm pads that still offer plenty of protection but are a little bit smaller and allow for more mobility.
- Since defenders are typically the ones making contact, they will wear elbow pads, which are even smaller than arm pads.
Rib pads are an optional type of equipment that provides additional safety. Rib or kidney pads are commonplace in box lacrosse, but they can still offer plenty of protection in the outdoor game against rib or kidney injuries. Rib pads offer padding on both sides of the body and fit well underneath shoulder pads. Like a lot of the lacrosse equipment out there, rib pads are lightweight, comfortable, and beneficial in preventing injuries.
Lacrosse is the fastest sport on two feet, which means cleats are another must-have for players. Some will go with soccer or football cleats, but it’s best to wear ones specific to lacrosse; unlike soccer cleats, they will offer better side-to-side traction. There are also three types of cleats to consider: low-rise, mid-ankle, or high-tops.
Mid-ankle and high-tops offer more ankle support, but some players, especially attackmen, prefer the extra mobility they feel from a low-rise cleat. In addition to the cut, players can also choose to wear turf shoes as opposed to a traditional cleat if they regularly play on an artificial playing surface. With cleats, the key is to choose a pair based on the width of your foot and your playing style.
In youth lacrosse, playing without a mouthguard can lead to a two-minute non-releasable penalty, while “fish hooking” (wearing the mouthguard outside the mouth like a fishhook) can result in a technical foul. Don’t just settle for an uncomfortable, ill-fitting mouthguard because the potential injuries you could face on the field aren’t worth it.
Many players are choosing to go with custom fitting mouthguards that come flat and are molded to their teeth, similar to a retainer, allowing players to talk, drink, and breathe better. SISU is one of the most popular brands, but the one downside is that there’s no helmet strap with this style. If your player loses a lot of things, you might want to go with one that attaches directly to the helmet.
It’s well-known that a lacrosse ball can hurt if it strikes you directly. Not only do you want to protect your chest, head, and other parts of your body from it—you also want to make sure you take care of the goods below the waist. You can wear a cup two different ways: with an old-school jockstrap or with compression shorts and a pocket at the front for it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and wearing a cup continues to become more comfortable with the options on the market today.
You might’ve realized that this article has yet to cover goalies—that’s because their equipment needs differ slightly from the rest of the team. Goalies in the outdoor game should wear the following equipment:
- Larger lacrosse head
- Gloves with a thumb pad
- Chest protector with NOCSAE certification
- Throat guard
- Goalie shorts with additional padding
- Shin pads (optional)
Stepping in the cage can be intimidating for anyone, but by wearing this gear, you protect yourself from the heat that may come your way and make yourself a wall on the field for your team.
Consider a Starter Kit
There’s a fair amount of equipment necessary to play lacrosse safely, and anyone new to the game might worry about the cost of getting started. The good news is that there are starter kits available that bundle gloves, shoulder pads, and arm pads for an affordable price. Lacrosse Fanatic also offers rental kits that include everything you need.
If you have any questions, feel free to call and speak to a professional. At Lacrosse Fanatic, we also offer virtual one-on-one appointments via Zoom. We can see your player and make better suggestions on equipment and sizes. Plus, you can do this from your home, car, or at the field. We have done it all before!